Roman Abramovich has revealed his motivation to fight anti-Semitism at Chelsea stemmed from wanting the Blues to be “welcoming to everyone”.
Owner Abramovich’s rare personal insight comes as Chelsea launch the latest initiative in their long-running ‘Say No To Anti-Semitism’ campaign.
Chelsea will mark Holocaust Memorial Day before kick-off in Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Wolves at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues will highlight the stories of 20 sportsmen and women, 17 of Jewish heritage, who were killed by the Nazis.
Wednesday’s pre-match light display will form part of the club’s wider ’49 Flames’ project, paying tribute to the number of Olympians known to have been killed in Nazi concentration camps.
Ahead of the display, Chelsea’s Russian owner has moved to explain just why he continues to be so passionate about the club’s anti-Semitism campaign, that has now been running for three years.
“When I first came to Chelsea, I had two ambitions: to create world-class teams on the pitch; and to ensure the club plays a positive role in all of its communities, using football as a vehicle to inspire and engage people around the issues that matter,” Abramovich told Chelsea’s official club website.
“It has always been important to me to create a club that is welcoming to everyone. We actively celebrate our cultural and religious diversity and, through the work of the Chelsea Foundation, deliver programmes to promote equality and tackle discrimination all over the world.
“Nonetheless, we are all too often reminded there is more to be done. Three years ago, we launched the ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ campaign. I am incredibly proud about the amount of progress we have made and the impact we have had since we started, and I am thankful for all the support from Chelsea fans who have taken this campaign to heart.
“This exhibition is the latest initiative within our ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ campaign and tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of Jewish athletes from all over the world.
“I hope these stories will serve both as a reminder of the atrocities suffered during the Holocaust and also as an inspiration to all of us to do our utmost to prevent them from ever happening again.
“We can all do something to challenge discrimination at our club, in our communities and in the world around us. With your help, Chelsea can play a leading role in this vital work and demonstrate that we truly are a club open to all.”
British-Israeli street artist Solomon Souza has collaborated with Chelsea for the ’49 Flames’ project, just as he did when creating a giant mural at Stamford Bridge last year.
The virtual exhibition will be followed up by a physical art installation at Stamford Bridge, that supporters will be able to visit once Government coronavirus regulations allow.
Chelsea have also produced a coffee table book, which will be available to pre-order from the club’s megastore on Wednesday.